Rendell endorses Khan in quest to become Philly DA

Listen
 Former Pennsylvania Gov. and Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell endorses Joe Khan in his campaign to be Philadelphia's next district attorney at City Hall Wednesday. (Tom MacDonald/ WHYY)

Former Pennsylvania Gov. and Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell endorses Joe Khan in his campaign to be Philadelphia's next district attorney at City Hall Wednesday. (Tom MacDonald/ WHYY)

A big name in Pennsylvania politics has endorsed a candidate in the crowded race to become Philadelphia’s next district attorney.  

In a seven-person Democratic primary, it could be a big help.

Former Gov. and Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell said he interviewed three Democrats running  for district attorney before deciding Joe Khan is the best man for the job.

“I saw Rich Negrin, who I worked with when he was managing director,” Rendell said Wednesday. “I have a high regard for Rich, and I think he would make a good DA. It’s just that Joe would be a great DA.

“And I saw Michael Untermeyer who worked for me when I was district attorney,” Rendell continued. He’s “well motivated and wants to do the right thing, but I think Joe Khan would be a game-changer for the justice system.”

Khan said the show of support from Rendell will help with his name recognition in the crowded field.  And he said he believes it will give him the chance to be heard on his merits.

“What I learned in my six years at the DA’s office is how to take on tough fights, how to not only pursue convictions of the dangerous and the guilty but to exonerate the innocents,” Khan said.

Former Republican mayoral candidate Sam Katz said the endorsement is important to the young, first-time candidate.

“If Ed Rendell also gets on the phone and raises money and engages his network, that’s a big deal, and it’s an imprimatur of a ‘Good Housekeeping seal of approval’ by a guy we all know,” Katz said. “So that’s a big deal.”

A spokesman for Negrin said his candidate has been endorsed by dozens of local community leaders from all over the city.  Untermeyer, who has the largest campaign war chest, said he is focusing on the issues rather than endorsements.

Others in the primary race are Democrats Teresa Carr Deni, Larry Krasner, Tariq El-Shabazz and Jack O’Neill, and Republican Beth Grossman.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.